enator Jon Tester is fighting to ensure that more veterans receive the education and job training assistance they earned.
Tester wants the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Education to improve their efforts to recruit veterans into the Veterans Upward Bound initiative. Veterans Upward Bound offers veterans access to courses in a wide range of subjects, as well as educational counseling, mentoring services and information on postsecondary education opportunities.
Only a small percentage of Montana veterans are currently enrolled in Veterans Upward Bound. Tester says that enrolling more veterans in the initiative will help them gain the academic skills they need to go to college and get good jobs.
"I believe we all have a role in educating veterans on the opportunities and assistance they have as they begin the process of pursuing a higher education," Tester wrote Education Secretary Arne Duncan and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. "I request that you examine what your departments are doing to make veterans aware of this valuable program, and to determine what further steps can be taken."
Tester said that while Veterans Upward Bound is successfully enrolling veterans already using other veterans programs, the initiative is struggling to attract younger, rural veterans who may be unaware of their opportunities for education assistance.
"It's critical that we improve how we integrate veterans into the education system and better prepare them to be ready to learn," said Montana Upward Bound Director Dr. Luke Petriccione. "Enrolling more veterans into Veterans Upward Bound will make them more comfortable when they go back to school and increase their learning opportunities. I appreciate Senator Tester's work to help more veterans get the education assistance they earned."
Tester, Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, recently renewed his push to increase access to higher education for Montana's veterans. He introduced two bills to ensure student veterans get the information they need to make smart decisions about their futures. One, the G.I. Bill Consumer Awareness Act, will require the VA to provide G.I. Bill beneficiaries with easy-to-understand information about schools approved to accept benefits.
Veterans Upward Bound is run by the Education Department, but the VA helps to recruit veterans for the initiative.